What a fabulous end to the week. A very warm welcome to the Emanuel Church elder LGBTI lunch. They very kindly facilitated a discussion about what the community lunch club meant to them. They moaned about the food quite a lot, so it wasn’t that – I thought the chilli was nice, but I’m easily pleased. It was the sense of community, it was a safe place to be, when they entered everyone assumed they were LGBT, which was in contrast to pretty much everywhere else they went. It was assumed when I mentioned my partner was heading out that it was a woman and for the first time in my life I had to declare my sexuality. This was an important understanding. The location of the club was easily accessible, it helped that there was free parking – I think. The members that I met today were overwhelmingly gay men with only two women present. One woman travelled some distance just to attend this club just for the companionship. Memory concerns were definitely present within this group. There was a beautiful point at the end of the group where members enquired about other members who they hadn’t seen in a while and there was a kind of update. This is a community who looks out for each other.
I had to say goodbye to the lovely Bob Linscott who has taken such good care of me all week and hooked me up with such great contacts. I have a few Churchill Crowns which I can give to people as a thank you. They are a nice commemorative coin from the Churchill Trust. I presented Bob with a crown and he complained that he would rather have a tiara 🙂
I headed up to a lovely café and cake place (took all my self-control to resist the cakes) to meet with Cherri, a dementia champion. We are definitely kindred spirits and it was great to appreciate the vibe in the USA around dementia training. I need to send copies of my articles to her and we might even manage to meet up in the UK later in the year. It was interesting that Cherri uses validation therapy, which influenced my early work a great deal so was nice to discuss that with her.
My last appointment of the day was with Sean Cahill the Director of Health Policy Research who provided me with a really great insight into what the issues were in terms of aging LGBTI community and how they were responding to that. I’m looking forward to reading their latest report about how the landscape has changed in the first year of Trumps presidency. My head is reeling from all the information, the love, the support and the friendships I have made here.
The chilly walk back to my hotel was just what I needed and there was a mental toss-up between going to the gym and enjoying the complementary wine. Wine won. Early night needed as I have an early start tomorrow as I head to NYC and the best boyfriend in the world. I have a list of restaurants, bakeries, sights to see from all those I have spent time with over the last two days. I fear the diet will go out the window…